This introductory chapter briefly considers the two major streams that have shaped Western ideas of soul: religious and biblical versions of soul; and cultural, musical, and literary interpretations. These categories allow us to consider soul from different angles, first as a biblical and theological concept and subsequently as a question of style in music, folklore, poetry, and literature. When speaking of this second inflection, the chapter (and the book as a whole) focuses on African American and Spanish/Latin American traditions, as they converge with the author's own area of expertise and, more personally, touch aspects of his own culturally conditioned soul.
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